Bloomberg News

Scene Last Night: Blankfein, Koch, Rushdie at Met Arab Gala

November 02, 2011

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Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- David and Julia Koch paused in front of a 14th-century prayer niche from Isfahan made of blue ceramic tile.

Salman Rushdie and son Milan looked up at a vaulted red- and-gold ceiling from 16th-century Spain.

Coca-Cola Co. Chairman Muhtar Kent and his wife, Defne, strolled past a fountain filled with flower petals in an ornately carved Moroccan Court.

Last night, the Metropolitan Museum of Art invited 700 guests to a celebration of its newest galleries.

Opening to the public on Nov. 1, the 15 rooms are formally known as the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Their renovation began in 2003.

“I’ve been waiting so many years for this. I can’t believe it’s finally happening,” said art collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, board member of the Museum of Modern Art and wife of Venezuelan billionaire Gustavo Cisneros.

On view are 1,200 objects from the museum’s collection of more than 12,000. Some carpets have their own rooms, while a piece of carnelian inscribed in Hebrew, no bigger than a thumbprint, is in a glass display case with other objects found on a Met excavation in the 1930s.

“It’s overwhelming,” said author and preservationist Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, who was there with her husband, Carl.

In the Great Hall, the information desk was transformed into a bar. Waiters passed fava-bean puree on toast.

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group, searched for one of his deputies, Sharmin Mossavar- Rahmani, chief investment officer for the Private Wealth Management Group of Goldman Sachs’s Investment Management division.

Mossavar-Rahmani and her husband, Bijan, funded the gallery of Safavid and later Persian Art (1500-1924).

Thomas Campbell, the museum’s director, posed for a photograph with Rahmi M. Koc, head of the Istanbul-based Vehbi Koc Foundation, which supported two galleries of Ottoman art.

At 8 p.m., trumpeters urged guests into the Temple of Dendur, among them Elbrun and Peter Kimmelman, in matching robes with silver thread, Richard Avedon’s grandson Michael and Oscar and Annette de la Renta.

Dinner included lamb chops, harissa-style relish and the recitation of a long thank-you list by Campbell. No-shows included the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., whose boss, President Hamid Karzai, had uttered comments on Pakistan and the U.S. that he would later seek to re-say, but by then everyone was done with the pistachio ice cream.

Harlem Gala

R&B singer Janelle Monae, in her signature menswear, blended into the chic crowd at the Studio Museum in Harlem gala, where guests included designer Tracy Reese and Valentino Carlotti, president of Goldman Sachs’s Brazilian unit.

The party started at the Museum of American Finance, then moved to Cipriani Wall Street. During a dinner of sea bass and polenta, Raymond McGuire, head of global banking at Citigroup Inc., presided over the presentation of the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize to sculptor Leonardo Drew.

The band GDO Soul gave guests the most fun of the evening. Thelma Golden, director of the museum, hit the dance floor with her husband, designer Duro Olowu.

IPod Shuffles

Liev Schreiber emceed the New York Public Radio gala at 583 Park, a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the classical music radio station WQXR.

“WQXR is still the soundtrack of my youth,” said Schreiber. “Thank you for the many years of classical music I’ve had to endure and that hopefully my children and my children’s children will continue to endure.”

After dessert, Lang Lang played Chopin and Liszt for an audience including Peter J. Solomon, chairman and founder of Peter J. Solomon Co. At every place setting, guests found their own iPod Shuffle containing a recording of Stravinsky by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and podcasts of “Radiolab,” “Freakonomics Radio” and the new show “Here’s the Thing” with Alec Baldwin.”

Ice Cream Cones

Former hedge-fund manager Michael Steinhardt and his son David tried the kosher-ice-cream cones at the American Friends of the Israel Museum Art Next Next Art gala at Cipriani 42nd Street. Neither thought they were very good, but there was plenty else to try on the dessert buffet, including black-and- white cookies and chocolate-almond clusters.

The ladies, including Chloe Waddington, who works at Christie’s, and Emily Kaplan, who works at Sotheby’s, gravitated to the fruit.

(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)

--With assistance from Lili Rosboch. Editors: Manuela Hoelterhoff, Jeffrey Burke.

To contact the writer on this story: Amanda Gordon in New York at agordon01@bloomberg.net or on Twitter at @amandagordon.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.


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